MEDICINE HAT, AB — Medicine Hat College marked World Mental Health Day on Wednesday.
During the afternoon, the Be Fit for Life Centre hosted a workout over the noon hour, allowing students to focus on both their physical and mental well-being.
“We’re trying really hard this year to build the connection between mental health and physical health,” said Jaycene Mock, health and wellness coordinator with the Student’s Association of Medicine Hat College.
Mock is involved with several initiatives on campus regarding mental health, and says in recent years, the association has been working to remove the stigma surrounding mental illness for students.
“My role is at the college is to go out and do these awareness events, have tables, talk with students and be able to open those doors that's its okay to talk about your mental health,” she said.
In the 2016 National College Health Assessment survey, 10 post-secondary institutions in Alberta were surveyed. The survey revealed that 90 per cent of those surveyed felt overwhelmed at school, with 64 per cent saying they had overwhelming anxiety.
Tobi Ceh, manager of mental health and counselling at Medicine Hat College, says they’ve seen an increase in students accessing services on campus for mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
“When we're talking about what that looks like in a student life, a decreased ability to cope with the demands of deadlines or the workload,” she said. “Also social anxiety. How do people feel like they have a place to belong when they move to a campus.”
Ceh has created mental health first aid kits, which were being distributed at the college during the Long Night Against Procrastination event. The kits include cards that have strategies to help manage different conditions, such as stress and anxiety, as well as contact information for college services.
“The interventions on the back to help them cope with the state are all evidence-based ways that clinicians know helps to get them, if they're having an anxiety attack, get them calm, get them stable so they can take themselves to the next step and get counselling,” said Ceh.
Peer support, counselling and even referrals to outside agencies, including Alberta Health Services are available to college students. Ceh and Mock add that students need to talk with someone about what they’re experiencing if they are struggling.
“If they don't have the skills now to cope with what's going on, they can learn the skills,” said Ceh. They're not incapable of being well, they just need to ask for some help to be well.”
“It's nothing to be shy about or be ashamed of,” added Mock. “We don't know what's going on with you if you're not letting us know.”
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